Nurses are being encouraged to ‘lead by example’ if they are able to donate during Blood Week as the NHS needs more black people to give blood.
A 75% increase in demand for Ro blood – a type most common in black people – has led NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) to launch a campaign aimed at recruiting more black donors.
Ro blood is used in a ‘high proportion’ to treat sickle cell disease, a condition which affects 15,000 people in the UK and is particularly common in people with an African or Caribbean background, according to the NHSBT.
Sickle cell disease is treated using blood transfusions which are more effective when the patient is closely matched to the donor but only 1% of the people who give blood in the UK are black.
NHSBT senior sister Ebony Dunkley said: ‘Being a nurse is not only about providing patient-centred care to individuals who are suffering from chronic and acute illnesses, but is also about ensuring members of the public who volunteer to give blood receive a high-quality standard of care while donating, because quite simply, donating blood saves lives.
‘As a black woman myself, the reluctance for black donors to sign up to donate blood is something I am keen to try and help overcome.
‘Having received a blood transfusion myself, I am unable to give blood, but I do use my role to stress that if you can donate blood, then it is essential you should. I also encourage all nurses who are able to give blood to lead by example by giving blood themselves and encouraging others to do so.’
National Blood Week runs from June 19 to June 25 and will attempt to tackle some of the blood deficit.
NHSBT director of blood donation Mike Stredder said: ‘We need to ensure that we have the right mix of donors and blood types to help meet the needs of all patients who need life-saving treatment, especially those with conditions like sickle cell disease who require blood which is more closely matched than by group alone.’